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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

ICT firms urged to endow varsity chairs

SPEAKERS at a workshop on ‘The impact of liberalization on trade in Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) goods and services’ organized by the Faculty of Social sciences, University of Lagos, last week, have challenged ICT firms, urging them to endow industry-based research chair in tertiary institutions across the country.

Some of the speakers at the one-day workshop on the dissemination of findings on the impact of liberalization on trade in ICT goods and services, included Prof. Tayo Fakiyesi of the department of Economics, Prof. Ike Mowete of Faculty of Engineering and Electrical Electronics as well as Prof. Peter Fogam of the department of commercial law, all from UNILAG. They agreed on the need to establish research chairs in tertiary institutions nationwide.

Leading discussion in this aspect was Prof. Fakiyesi, who said that ICT in the country has raised the level of employment opportunities, but called for strict regulatory measures that would check some fraudulent practices associated with it.
He pointed out that why academic community seems not to be involved in the research leading to ICT innovations was, saying that lack of professional endowed chair in the nation’s tertiary institutions by operators in the sector has not been helpful.

He decried the absence of political will by those in the government to given the academia the opportunity to research on ICT, rather, they prefer foreign countries to supply all that is needed in the sector.

‘’The environment is not conducive, the political will has not given us the opportunity to work towards research, not that we cannot do good jobs but the political will is not there. The essence of this workshop is to create more ICT businesses in Nigeria and we’re ready to work towards the improvement of ICT sector,” he said.

According to him, universities and some professionals needed to be consulted when policies on ICTs are being formulated, saying that some of the people who are making policies on ICT today are not professionals.

He cited an instance with the United Kingdom and America telecommunication companies who go around universities endowing chairs to research on how to improve their services, stressing that the network providers, should be able to identify their need areas and get to the universities to research on these areas.

‘’In United Kingdom ICT companies go around to universities to establish chairs for research. MTN, Glo and Zain should come to us for research, they should tell us what they want and guide us on what they want, we’re ready to do research, but these people are not ready to encourage research work in the country. The research should be under their guidance, and the findings should be theirs,’’ he said.

Also speaking, Prof. Ike Mowete of the faculty of engineering, noted that lack of implementation has hindered the anticipated success from the ICT sector.

This, he said, could have been differently, “if there have been political will to implement the policies on ICT.”

On the inability of his faculty to stimulate actions to leapfrog ICT development in the country, he said that most of them have good ideals, but investors would prefer to sponsor those likely to have immediate return on investment, just as he noted that when professionally endowed chairs are established and adequately funded in the universities, it could go a long way to strengthen the contributions from those in the academia.

“Everybody wants quick return on investment. With this kind of attitude, the sector will remain undeveloped for some time,’’ he warned.

For Prof. Fogam, despite the rapid development recorded so far in ICT in the country, the sector is still bedeviled by total lack of consistently in the ICT policy.

As said by him, total application of ICT in most developing countries, including Nigeria, are hindered by the lack of comprehensive legal and regulatory framework, emphasising that, though, Nigeria has taken a bold leap forward, the legal and regulatory measures on ground needed to improve.

“However, the ever changing nature of ICT industry is such that it is difficult to imagine the challenges that these measure may face in the future. Much, therefore, are yet to be done to meet the future challenges,” he said.

Fogam, further said that what exists today by way of national communication policy and Communications Act 2003, underscores the facts that a sustainable ICT industry in Nigeria needs an environment of trust created through legal and regulatory apparatus.

Additionally, Prof. Fogam noted that the opportunity brought by ICT needs a strict legal and regulatory environment for proper coordination, saying that the present ICT status in the country has been influenced by policies, status and regulations.

The ICT technologies, he said, have led to the convergence between the media and the telecommunications in such a way that today, it is possible for one to read newspapers online and listen to radio stations across the world from different websites through multi-media system.

He stressed the importance of ICT in the affairs of any country could never be over emphasized because ICT enhance economic growth through enhanced competitiveness, possible increased trade and investment.


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